The pandemic has changed many things in our lives: from purchasing essentials to buying luxuries, and from where we work to how we spend our leisure time.
One major shift is how we entertain ourselves because, like it or not, we all have time on our hands, often without “real” social interactions.
In the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that almost eight in 10 people said that social contact over the phone, social media or video conferencing was key to wellbeing. Indeed, according to a poll by Ipsos Mori, nearly 50% of us are spending more time on social media as a way of keeping in contact with family and friends.
Entertainment has fundamentally changed because live sport, cinema, theatre, music and other events are closed or are operating with restrictions.
So, no surprise that many of us have turned to streaming services to cope with the impact of lockdown.
In August, Disney+ announced it had surpassed 60 million subscribers. The company had previously predicted it would achieve that number by 2024. Underlining how home entertainment has changed, Disney+ launched its 2020 blockbuster, Mulan, on its subscription service.
Netflix has also seen enormous growth, adding 26 million paid new subscribers in the first two quarters of 2020 alone. In 2019, the company added 28 million subscribers in total. The same is true across Europe. For example, 40% of households in the Netherlands already have Netflix and it’s been announced that a further 6% of Dutch households are expected to subscribe to Netflix in the next six months.
But it’s not just streaming movies and series: The global video game market is forecast to be worth US$159 billion in 2020, around four times box office revenues (US$43 billion in 2019) and almost three times music industry revenues (US$57 billion in 2019).
With many people now at home for longer, the huge growth in gaming was predictable, particularly with improvements to gaming hardware, bandwidth and mobile internet. This has made high-quality games more accessible across devices and platforms. Indeed, close to half (48%) of the industry’s revenue now comes from mobile gaming.
Like Disney+ launching a blockbuster film online, the demarcation between gaming and other cultural activities is becoming blurred.
Home entertainment isn’t just about whiling away the hours. For many, it’s also a way to support personal wellbeing.
The World Federation for Mental Health says: “We know that the levels of anxiety, fear, isolation, social distancing and restrictions, uncertainty and emotional distress experienced have become widespread as the world struggles to bring the virus under control and to find solutions.”
The conclusion is that we need something more from brands we interact with, and particularly those that support us mentally. The home entertainment sector is delivering a new kind of quality customer experience. Understanding that more customers will be isolated, lonely or anxious, for them, and me, home entertainment can be a lifeline.